Release Date: Apr 14, 2009
Record label: DFA
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Electronic
Missing the arty disco of LCD Soundsystem? This will tide you over. MacLean was once in dance punks Six Finger Satellite, employing LCD's James Murphy as soundman. Now he's releasing thoughtful dancefloor fare on his label, sharing deadpan vocals with Nancy Whang. The result? A cosmic, contemporary Human League .
It's been a year since the Juan MacLean released the lead single from this album, Happy House. A sprawling 12-minute dance music epic, it's easily the disc's standout track, but don't be fooled into thinking it's representative of the album as a whole. [rssbreak] In fact, most of the other tracks are far more concise and synth-pop-inspired, bringing to mind Yazoo or the Human League more than the Chicago house referenced by the single.
The most telling fact about the Juan Maclean's The Future Will Come is, quite shockingly, a statement from John Maclean himself: "In my career as the Juan Maclean, my guiding principle was to start out more dance-y and instrumental, and someday bow out, making flat-out, three-and-a-half minute pop songs. " A noble goal if ever there was one -- someone who knows that what they're doing can flatten a city block with three and a half minutes of audio. It is probably because of this intention that seven out of the ten tracks on The Future Will Come dance around the short end, despite the fact that most of the attention given to the Juan Maclean has focused on that project's longer tracks, notably this disc's closer, "Happy House.
The Juan MacLean’s frontman, John Mac-Lean, has built himself a nice subgenre niche, releasing a steady stream of knowingly kitschy electro anthems that play equally well at cavernous discos and cool-kid Brooklyn house parties. And The Future Will Come is, by and large, a fun ride, all squiggly synth wah-wahs, airy vocal coos, and funked-up drums that beg for — and sometimes, as on the giddy closer ”Happy House,” deliver — more cowbell. B+ Download This: Listen to the song ”Happy House” on imeem.com See all current music reviews from EW .
If you wanted to hear an askew semi-counterpoint to Hercules and Love Affair's longing, unrequited "Blind" last year, all you had to do was jump back a couple of weeks and one DFA catalogue number. The Juan MacLean's "Happy House" might have been comparatively overlooked in the wake of their labelmates' widespread critical success, but it's hard not to hear it as the weight on the other side of the scale. It jumps a decade or so past H&LA's Larry Levan-minded disco into a style alluded to in the song's double-meaning title, Nancy Whang's voice dripping with a cool, almost aloof exuberance that seemed content to ride along with that pulse-raising piano.
Last year, the only record to rival Hercules and Love Affair's Blind for classy dancefloor nostalgia came from their label-mate the Juan Maclean (aka plain old John Maclean). True to its title, Happy House was a stirring, full-blooded celebration of early 1990s, piano-led house music. Maclean works best in dance music's wide open spaces - the 10-minute Tonight brilliantly evokes the nocturnal deep house of Larry Heard, before breaking down into a wobbly juke-joint piano riff and an eerie, dissipated croon, while Accusations is Rhodes-dappled cosmic disco.
Electroclash is deader than disco, but its passivity remains. On The Future Will Come, the new album by the Juan MacLean, vocalist Nancy Whang emotes with an energy level just a bit above that of the infamously deadpan Miss Kittin. And although this isn’t an album that totally lives or dies on the basis of vocal tracks, Whang’s participation is a potentially divisive proposition.
John “the Juan” MacLean emerged as James Murphy’s partner in arty retro-disco. As a producer, Murphy aided the evolution of MacLean’s erstwhile dance-punk band Six Finger Satellite. And from the giddyup, MacLean’s sparse, thumping solo work was an obvious fit for Murphy’s once-dominant DFA label. And yet, aside from its cheeky title, MacLean’s 2005 debut Less Than Human was relatively free of the acidic, focused humor that defined Murphy’s work and DFA’s fleeting 2002-04 commercial renaissance at large.